I’ve been learning a lot about myself this year….starting with finding out my personality type. As I read about the characteristics and traits and strengths and weakenesses of this personality, things began to make sense about why I do the things I do (or don’t.)
Seems I’m a bit computer like where I need input to figure out an output. I need past experiences and input to form what responses in word or actions are appropriate for a current situation. So Skywalker calls me Data (the droid from TNG)…with a more advanced emotion chip. Thanks Hun. But this does also explain my mostly expressionless face.
If it’s a new experience, particularly in relationships, I’m actually not very good at anticipating others’ feelings and emotional needs. You need to tell me so that I can build up a library of what works and what doesn’t for each person. Seems heartless…and a little callous…that I wouldn’t think of it until you inform me. But it’s not as though I’m only doing it because you said it. Understand that I’ll ask because I WANT to do it, because I care. I really do want to know what is meaningful to YOU so that I can do that for you. I tend to do unto others what they’ve shared they appreciate or else I do what I’d be ok with. In the past I have done things for others based on how I’d probably like to receive it or whatever I’d be ok receiving from others, i.e. apply the Golden Rule, but it turns out to be the wrong thing for them. I’m also quick to jump to “but does it work” and try to address that issue without taking into consideration the person’s feelings or how much effort they’ve taken to get to where they are.
My other problem, is that sometimes I don’t ask clarifying questions because I don’t know what I don’t know. Maybe it’s a new situation with a new person and I have no previous experience to draw back on or to cue me to do/say something appropriate. That’s where I appreciate someone asking or telling me about the situation. Please know that I won’t automatically feel guilty or obligated if you tell me a preference or expectation, and please don’t think that’s the only reason why I’m doing it. I really DO appreciate being informed about preferences or needs and would be happy to do what I can to meet that need or request. If I can’t meet the need, I’ll let you know or let you know of an alternative. But, if I feel that guilt is being applied, then I tend not to comply. For example, “I think Grandma misses hearing from you” (informative, no guilt applied) vs “How come you have time to ______ but not give Grandma a call?” (guilt applied).
When Skywalker and I were dating, and even into the first two years of marriage, he would wonder why I would fail to interpret and respond to a relational situation the way he would. “Dont’ people normally consider this for others?” “Don’t people just KNOW to do these things?” They probably do….I’m just not one of them. From 16personalities.com “The INTJ personality type is one of the rarest and most interesting types – comprising only about 2% of the U.S. population (INTJ females are especially rare – just 0.8%).” So if gems are rare, Skywalker married one of these. Lucky man! Meanwhile, we’re learning how to work with my personality type. If I’m asking questions, I’m not doing it to be annoying but because I really don’t know, and I really am just looking for more information so that I can show meaningful care. Or if I’m drawing a blank, I totally appreciate some cues as to what I should/shouldn’t do.
On the flip side, I don’t want this to be an excuse, with a “that’s just the way I am so y’all need to deal with it” mentality. I think whatever strengths/weakenesses we’re born with is just the starting point to becoming a more gracious, considerate, kind, strong, loving, etc person. Growing up, I was taught a Chinese proverb that says something to the effect of “Put more effort into whatever Nature didn’t give you.” So I have to work a little harder in this area than
some most. Thankfully, it’s not something I have to do by myself…God is ultimately the one doing an inner transformation in me, bringing out more of Christ’s character, and turning my weaknesses into new strengths. So for that, I am VERY grateful…and relieved!
“…Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6